How long will my artwork last?

How long will my print or painting last?

Do you remember the cheap print or painting your grandma had? The one that hung on a nail on the wall on the upstairs hall in direct sunlight. It may have been a country scene, a print of Salisbury Cathedral or a copy of a gypsy caravan, a stormy seascape, a child crying over a grazed knee or Venice’s Grand Canal at night. Whatever is was, the chances are it was blue and black and little more!

The longevity and light fastness of prints is a complex matter and no absolute ‘guarantees’ can be given on the archive potential of any print or painting and its resistance to change over time. The durability of your work depends not only on the quality of the pigments used but also on a variety of other variable factors such as the choice of printing paper or canvas, method of mounting and framing, humidity, temperature, ink or paint film thickness, pigment concentration, intensity and length of exposure, time of year, geographic location … to mention just a few!
We can, however, assure you that our Inks and Paints are a good way to start. We have selected only the best artist-grade pigments and binders and have made sure that all our products have a lightfast rating of at least 6 (and many have a rating of 7 and 8) as measured on the Blue Wool Scale. Blue Wool or BWS values of 6 and above are considered as having ‘very good to excellent lightfast ness and are generally acknowledged as ‘suitable for artistic use’. These values are given for each paint or ink at ‘full strength’ and that adding extender or opaque white to your inks will always lower the lightfast resistance of the ink.

Not all manufacturers use the Blue Wool Scale, preferring general descriptions. So how do we understand these?

What (for example) would we describe as Excellent lightfastness? Blue wool 7-8. The pigment will remain unchanged for more than 100 years of light exposure with proper mounting and display. (Suitable for artistic use.)

And how about Very good lightfastness. How do we define this? Blue wool 6. The pigment will remain unchanged for 50 to 100 years of light exposure with proper mounting and display. (Suitable for artistic use.)

What should we avoid? well be cautious, in fact avoid descriptions like Fair lightfastness (Impermanent). Blue wool 4-5. The pigment will remain unchanged for 15 to 50 years with proper mounting and display. (“May be satisfactory when used full strength or with extra protection from exposure to light.”)

The last two categories should make you run screaming from the building! Poor lightfastness (Fugitive). Blue wool 2-3. The pigment begins to fade in 2 to 15 years, even with proper mounting and display. (Not suitable for artistic use.)

Bringing tears to your eyes, a lump tp your throat and a weakness to the knees is the final and wholly unsuitable class! Very poor lightfastness (Fugitive). Blue wool 1. The pigment begins to fade in 2 years or less of light exposure, even with proper mounting and display. (Not suitable for artistic use.)

If this all seems too technical, the best advice is to keeping using our products and sleep easy!

Here to help

Whether you’re a fine-art printmaker, an artist, a retailer or just want to know more about our colours, we’d love to hear from you. Our open and friendly team are on hand to tackle any paint and ink challenges you may encounter.

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